Zhaire Smith is heading to Delaware.
After being inactive for Philadelphia 76ers opening win against the Boston Celtics, the team decided to send Smith to the G League for further development. He’s expected to report to the team’s camp along with two-way players Marial Shayok and Norvel Pelle.
Teams may have up to two players under two-way contracts who will spend the bulk of the season in the G League and no more than 45 days with their NBA team.
Smith was the 16th overall pick in the 2018 draft.
After a rookie season that included a broken foot and a severe allergic reaction that led to massive weight loss, Smith played only six games. He was expected to develop this season on the NBA roster, especially considering that the team exercised his third-year option for the 2020-2021 season.
“He’s expecting me to develop all around,” Smith said when asked of coach Brett Brown’s expectations. “Last year we tried to develop, but then obviously I had the setback. He feels like this is my rookie year, like this is [about] development.”
G League Makes Sense for Zhaire Smith
With Smith playing limited minutes in the preseason and out of the rotation, the assignment to Delaware makes sense. He can join the team for camp and the start of the season on Nov. 9 and get some time on the court, rather than just sitting on the end of the bench and getting mop up minutes.
Brown had hinted that a trip to the G League could be beneficial for Smith.
“I feel that that same opportunity exists for others as well,” Brown told reporters earlier this season when asked about the prospect of the G League. “You mention Zhaire and I’m not prepared to declare that yet, but if something were to continue where I just didn’t feel like he was getting NBA minutes if I’m his brother, his father, or his agent, then that’s what I would want.
“He missed all last year. The short answer is ‘yes’ for everybody as it relates to him, I understand.”
Matisse Thybulle Impresses in Sixers Debut
While Smith might need some more time to develop, there’s no question rookie Matisse Thybulle is ready to be an immediate contributor for the Sixers.
Thybulle had a shaky start with a few quick fouls, but quickly rebounded with a strong defensive presence. He finished with a bench-high 22 minutes, notching 3 points, 2 blocks and 2 steals.
“I think he’s incrementally earned the confidence of me and for sure his teammates,” Brown said of Thybulle, the 20th overall pick in this year’s draft. “It’s true, you don’t find many rookies that can come into a team that we aspire to be, amongst people that can win a championship. It’s a rare air for someone to come into and find minutes. A rookie has done that and he deserved it.”
The Sixers have also decided to give third-year guard Furkan Korkmaz a shot a developing into a spark plug off the bench. He played 19 minutes against the Celtics, which could be a trend going forward.
“I need to grow a bomber. Really, somebody’s got to emerge where they’re like lightning in a bottle that can come in and go bam, bam, bam, and make a three,” Brown said after Wednesday’s win. “So why not Furk?”